As the sign says, “Congratulations Fr. Enzo Addari on your Retirement! Mille Grazie!”

Since his retirement was announced in December, supporters of the Center have been sending their ‘Best Wishes’ to Fr. Enzo Addari. A few devoted supporters knew that many more would want to celebrate this hard-working Servant of Charity. Nearly 400 people gathered at Andiamo’s Showroom on 14 Mile Rd. in Warren MI on Thursday, April 18, 2024, to honor Fr. Enzo. It was not a surprise that so many wanted to attend the event in his honor.

It was truly a night everyone will remember for some time to come. Joe Vicari and a small committee planned an unforgettable evening for this truly remarkable man. The members of the committee, who dedicated their time to this worthy event include Joe Vicari, Mike Schodowski, Russ LoDuca, Joe Ventimigila, Sonny Randazzo, Patrick Rugiero, Aaron Caruso, and Wendy Zielen.

A statue depicting the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was in a place of prominence on the stage, on loan from State Deputy Christopher Kolomjec of the Michigan Knights of Columbus.

Upon arrival at the venue,  Fr. Enzo greeted each of the guests. They made their way into the ballroom to find their seats and enjoy the antipasti course. To get the evening started, Fr. Enzo gave a blessing and led the prayer before the meal.

Aaron Caruso, an accomplished singer and performer, planned a musical tribute that was thoughtful and beautiful. Before the meal began, the first surprise was the singing of the National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, by 11-year-old Lia Lucci. Her powerful performance was very moving. A brass quintet directed by Bradley Arnold followed with the Italian National Anthem. Voices could be heard from the crowd singing along to honor the country of their heritage.

As dinner was served, the music continued. Angela Theis, an original member of the Michigan Opera Theatre, performed The Lord’s Prayer by Albert Hay Malotte.

Music is the divine way to tell marvelous things to the heart. – Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi is a composer whom Fr. Enzo enjoys listening to. Aaron used the quote above to introduce a piece played by the brass quartet. Aaron himself performed several selections that he knew would delight Fr. Enzo. Taking turns with Eva Evola, who performed a duet with her very talented son Michael; Lia Lucci, who returned to the stage to sing Ave Maria; and Sonia Lee, a virtuoso violinist performing a piece entitled Nella Fantasia by Ennio Morricone.

Kathy Schmaltz, Michigan House of Representative District 46, surprised Fr. Enzo with a commendation signed by herself, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II.

The final surprise was Lisa and Sarah, St. Louis Center residents, who came to the stage to sing Jesus Loves Me.

The crowd included people spanning the decades of Fr. Enzo’s career. At the forefront stood the Italian American Community, a testament to the enduring bond forged decades ago when Fr. Enzo first set foot on American soil. Many among them had been there to extend a welcoming hand, offering support and guidance as he embarked on his journey at the Center. Now, they stood proudly, their presence a symbol of solidarity and appreciation for the remarkable journey Fr. Enzo had undertaken.

The gathering was not confined to one community alone. Tables overflowed with the families of those who had found support within the walls of the Center, where Fr. Enzo’s compassion and dedication had transformed lives. Friends, both old and new, mingled amidst the crowd, their stories intermingling with laughter and shared reminiscences of the countless ways Fr. Enzo had touched their lives.

Amidst the sea of faces, there were also countless supporters—individuals whose lives had been forever changed by the Center and the tireless efforts of its leaders. They had witnessed firsthand the impact of Fr. Enzo’s work, and their presence served as a testament to the profound ripple effect of compassion and kindness in a world often plagued by adversity.

Together, they formed a mosaic of gratitude and admiration, each person a testament to the profound influence of one man’s unwavering commitment to serving others. And as Fr. Enzo looked out upon the crowd, his heart swelled with humility and gratitude, knowing that his life’s work had not only touched individual hearts but had also woven together a community bound by love, compassion, and a shared sense of purpose.

After the musical performances ended, Norman Neuman, a longtime supporter of St. Louis Center, gave a heartfelt introduction of his close friend Fr. Enzo. Norm spoke of Fr. Enzo’s accomplishments, kindness, and generosity.

Send Fr. Enzo Your Best Wishes

If this article moves you, please consider a donation of any amount to St. Louis Center in Fr. Enzo’s honor.